Outdoor Adventure at Mountain Retreat in Central Vermont
The Mountain Top Inn & Resort got its start in 1870, when the Barstow family started putting up lodgers in their turnip barn in the heart of Vermont’s rolling Green Mountains. Nowadays, it's hard to imagine such humble beginnings when you see how the resort has expanded. The revamped lodgings encompass 350 acres, and the old grain silo now features a wall of windows overlooking the Chittenden Reservoir.
Despite its size, the inn has a down-home feel that extends to classic lodge rooms, which each boast beautiful views of the mountains, the reservoir, or the meadow. Four-bedroom chalets include contemporary kitchens, covered patios, and a sauna. Complementing the scenery is the inn’s hospitality, all part of why Frommer’s says The Mountain Top Inn & Resort is “among southern Vermont’s most relaxing resorts.”
The resort offers plenty of ways for families to explore the surrounding landscape. Clay-bird shooting and romantic pontoon-boat rides make up some of the available outdoor activities in the warmer weather. Nearby, you’ll find plenty of tranquil fly-fishing spots and a slew of golf courses. In December, The Mountain Top Nordic Ski & Snowshoe Center opens up, with 60 kilometers of cross-country skiing trails, as well as sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and ice skating.
Cap off a busy day with a Swedish or hot-stone massage or a meal at one of the resort’s onsite restaurants. The Highlands Dining Room serves upscale cuisine that uses ingredients from local farms, with a menu that changes seasonally. Its wine list earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012. Lighter fare is available at The Highlands Tavern, where you can grab an array of local microbrews in a friendly, lodge-style setting.
Green Mountains, Vermont: Historical Towns Surrounded by Wilderness
Named for the layers of stately evergreens that carpet their slopes, the Green Mountains are a branch of the ancient Appalachians that stretches north to south through the center of Vermont. It’s a relatively even swath of rolling forests capped by a few summits that rise above the tree line, including Mount Mansfield, which tops off at 4,393 feet. The landscape is home to other rugged scenery, including alpine lakes, and more than 900 miles of mixed-use trails for biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. The Green Mountain National Forest occupies 400,000 acres here, where you fish for rainbow trout and camp among wildlife such as moose, coyotes, black bears, and white-tailed deer.
The mountains are punctuated by quaint Vermont villages where white church steeples border organic farms and creameries. At the midsection of Green Mountain National Forest is the city of Rutland, which plays host to summer outdoor concerts and the Vermont State Fair. About 90 minutes north is Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, which is known for its breweries and boutiques.
Each season in the Green Mountains brings its own unique pleasures: during the winter, ski resorts including Killington, Mount Snow, and Sugarloaf offer some of New England’s best downhill skiing; the summer plays host to music festivals and hilltop weddings; and fall foliage peaks in October, when the mountains’ namesake green turns into a bewildering display of reds, oranges, yellows, and purples.